The 2014 MotoGP Championship headed to Argentina’s Termas de Rio Hondo this week for round 3. And the action began Thursday with the traditional pre-race press conference at the South American circuit.
Speaking to the international journalists were the current reigning MotoGP Champion, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi, Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl, and Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Bradley Smith. They were joined by the Argentinian Sebas Porto, who will make a wildcard appearance in the Moto2 class.
“I think it will be an interesting weekend here in Argentina, as it’s a new track for everybody. We need to work a little bit more than usual to find the best line, to adapt our riding style and to find the right set-up for this track. I am back at 100% for riding, I still can’t run but I am fine on the bike,” Marquez says.
Nine-time World Champion Rossi is the only MotoGP pilot to race in South America, though it was at the Buenos Aires circuit in 1999.
“I have some riding experience in South America, a lot in Brazil, but also some unforgettable moments in Buenos Aires in 1998 and 1999. This track is new but it is good for motorcycles and I think it will be a flowing circuit which will be fun to ride. I have a good first impression,” Rossi says.
Dovizooso arrives after giving Ducati its first podium under dry conditions in over a year.
“The podium in Austin was great for many reasons. Obviously it is great for a rider to be up there but it is also a reward for all the people working hard behind the scenes. I was not feeling well in Austin during the weekend so to end up on the podium was a great feeling. I’m also excited to be riding at this new track,” Dovi says.
Bradl was one of a few riders, including Ducati Team’s Cal Crutchlow, who will miss Argentina MotoGP, and GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, who tested at Termas de Rio Hondo circuit last season.
“I don’t know if it will be any real advantage as the conditions were not perfect here for the test. The others will catch up very fast. I like the track and the layout is good, it will be demanding on the tires and I think the gaps between the riders will be very close so I expect some good racing,” Bradl says.
As for the British pilot Smith, he arrives in Argentina following his best-ever finish of fifth, which occurred at COTA two weeks agao.
“I struggled in Austin last year so it was good to get the result and get over the line, although I think the potential for the podium was there. I finished as the top Yamaha so I was very pleased with that and pleased for our team. I’ve been around this new track on a scooter and am looking forward to getting out there on a MotoGP bike tomorrow,” Smith says.
Porto will make a wildcard appearance this weekend aboard Kalex Moto2 machinery for Argentina TSR Motorsport. The former World Championship regular is delighted to see the World Championship back in his home nation.
“I am very happy to be here, it has been a long time since my last appearance in the World Championship. I will try to do my best as the fans are really excited about the racing coming back to Argentina. It has been 15 years since we raced here and motorcycling has grown a lot in that time in South America and in Argentina. I hope I can ride at a good level,” Porto says.
The riders return to Termas de Rio Hondo Friday for the first two free practice sessions. For a preview of Argentina MotoGP, visit 2014 Argentina MotoGP Preview.